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SEA@OAK: Moss seals comeback win with walk-off homer

OAKLAND -- In a crowded A's clubhouse late on Saturday afternoon, eyes occasionally shifted to the Orioles' game on TV. Celebratory loud music served as its background sound, with Brandon Moss proudly sporting the smell of a postseason berth not far away.

A hint of whipped cream remained in his beard, and Moss motioned to wipe it when reminded of this, before simply letting it be. Perhaps, it was an effort to maybe turn the feeling that came with it into a permanent one.

"Thankfully, it's not shaving cream, because I ate a lot of it," Moss said, smiling. "Regular ol' whipped cream. It's good. It tastes a lot better than a loss."

The way the A's see it, losing isn't an option these days. So they're choosing to win, even when trailing by two entering the ninth inning. That's the deficit Oakland faced on Saturday, when it got a game-tying, two-run homer by Josh Donaldson, before Moss delivered his walk-off, three-run homer off Seattle's Stephen Pryor in the 10th inning for the 7-4 win, giving the A's their Major League-leading 14th walk-off victory of the season.

"There's not much better a feeling than that," said Moss, who was pied quickly thereafter. "When you're playing a game as a little kid in the backyard, that's kind of what you dream of doing.

"Last night, [Pryor] got me to pop up with the bases loaded on a pitch that was a little high, and I was really just trying to get a pitch down and in, something I could get the barrel on. First pitch, I ended up hitting it further than I thought I would hit it."

"We've experienced this before. It has been awhile, but I don't think to the magnitude of that one," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Donaldson's home run was epic, and then for Moss to do what he did there and what he's done for us since he's been there, a pretty dramatic win -- maybe as dramatic as all of them."

And, up to this point, no doubt the most meaningful.

With the win, the A's upped their lead in the American League Wild Card standings to 2 1/2 games over the Angels, while the winning Rays remained three back. They also cut their deficit to the first-place Rangers in the AL West to just 2 1/2 with four to play. Their magic number at three, the A's can clinch at least a spot in a one-game Wild Card playoff on Sunday, should each of the following happen: the A's beat the Mariners; the Angels lose both games of a doubleheader to Texas; and the Rays lose to the White Sox.

"We're still focused at going at the division," Donaldson said. "Everything is still wide open. I guarantee you, there's going to be some great baseball left at the end."

Saturday's contest surely falls under that category.

Oakland trailed by four in the early going, as home runs by Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders off righty Dan Straily accounted for three runs in the fourth. This came after Straily was tagged for an unearned run in the second, when two throwing errors on the same play by Moss and Yoenis Cespedes led to a run.

Straily lasted just 4 1/3 innings, marking the third time in seven starts he hasn't completed five frames. The rookie righty has been prone to the long ball, giving up seven over his last 22 innings -- and 11 total in 39 1/3 innings. He fell behind 15 of the 20 batters he faced, including 10 of his last 11.

The A's finally got on the board in the fourth off Jason Vargas, courtesy of Moss' single that plated Cespedes all the way from first base. Vargas didn't allow another run in his seven innings of work, surrendering just five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.

While Oakland's bullpen kept the Mariners at bay, the A's did work on Seattle's. Closer Tom Wilhelmsen surrendered an RBI double to Moss in the eighth to cut Mariners' lead to two. After the A's stranded two in the eighth, Josh Reddick drew a one-out walk in the ninth off Wilhelmsen, before Donaldson delivered his game-changing home run.

"I was really trying to hit a home run," Donaldson said. "The first pitch, he throws me a heater and I feel like I took a pretty good swing at it -- a nice aggressive swing. And the next pitch, I didn't think he would come back with a heater, so I was sitting on offspeed and I know he's got a good breaking ball. I saw it pop up and took a good swing at it."

The A's dugout responded accordingly.

"I went nuts," Moss said. "The way he was swinging the bat all day, he was squaring up everything. He was one of the few guys that was actually squaring Vargas up. He ended up getting a breaking ball, and that was [one of] the prettiest swings I've seen him take."

Moss' wasn't so bad, either, as it gave the A's their 90th win of the season, marking the 16th season of 90 or more wins in Oakland history.

"Boy, that's pretty terrific," Melvin said. "It's a nice, round number. But we want more."

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